Blog by Mary Cleaver

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The Wealthy Barber

…. spoke at a real estate board event last week and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

If you don’t know this book, perhaps you know its author, David Chilton from  CBC’s The Dragon’s Den.

I read The Wealthy Barber when I was 20 years old. Evidently, I’m in good company - it’s one of the biggest selling Canadian books of all time.

David (yes, we’re on a first name basis now!) spoke for a little over an hour, was funny and thoroughly entertaining and reminded me of the lessons he first taught us over 20 years ago. While I did not save 10% of my gross income from that moment on (how I wish I had!), I did begin saving something and that’s... well, something! One of the key points in the book is that if you can “pay yourself first” by automatically moving money from your chequing account to your RRSP, you won’t have to track every cent you spend because you’ve already put some aside. That for the vast majority of us, buying what we want and saving what’s left doesn’t work out nearly as well.

And his overall message of living within our means has stuck with me and shapes my relationship with money, stuff, and the way my husband and I are trying to raise our children.

In his talk this week, he spoke about the insanity of having a flatscreen TV in every room, and granite countertops at the expense of our retirement accounts and childrens’ education funds.  He challenged us to think about major purchases we’ve made and asked us how long that euphoric feeling lasts. He reminded me that even lower-middle class Canadians live better than rich people decades ago, or royalty in past centuries or 95% of the world’s population now.  

My favourite bit was something like this:

The common wisdom is that a funded retirement means sacrificing today so that you don’t have to sacrifice later. But people who pay themselves first and live within their means are happier today too, because they’re not worried about their future and they are not weighed down by their stuff. They win now and in the future.

Feeling a bit inspired by that right now.